This is a review of the new "Tau" Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) gi by 93 Brand Kimonos.
After a brief summary, I've broken the review down into three broad categories: Comfort, Style, & Overall Quality. At the end of this review I compare the Tau to the Shoyoroll Comp Standard XIII .
[Disclosure: I was sent this gi by a representative of 93 Brand Kimonos at no cost to me, but without any requirement that I write a favorable review. I have otherwise no connection to this gi manufacturer.]
Guys, this is a great gi.
My overall impression is that this is an incredibly comfortable gi with durable stitching yet light weight. It has a very clean and aesthetically pleasing design. I believe it compares very favorably to the new Shoyoroll Comp Standard XIII .
This is an excellent, comfortable gi that is a significant value at its list price, but a true steal for $100. I highly recommend it.
My first impression when picking up the Tau is that it is significantly softer than any gi I have tried. I have owned gis from Atama, Gameness, and Shoyoroll-- all of which I really like-- but the Tau is exceptional in its soft and lightweight construction. You could build a house with some of the gis I have tried in the past, but the weave of the Tau jacket creates a feel that, in the words of my non-BJJ wife, "is like a spa towel."
The manufacturer says that the jacket is made from a light weight, gold weave material and the pants are brushed cotton (also very soft). Straight out of the packaging this gi is far and away more pliable and comfortable than any other gi I've worn even though the others have been washed several times.
When I got the opportunity to try the gi on the mat, there was a marked difference between the Tau and my other gis. I train almost exclusively in very hot weather-- with very humid conditions-- and this is the best, most comfortable hot weather gi I've ever worn. Rolling full speed with no rash guard, it still felt incredibly comfortable.
I can say without a doubt this is the most comfortable gi I have ever tested, and the best gi I have ever tried for the incredibly hot and humid conditions of my home BJJ gyms.
I'm not a bling sort of guy.
Gis that have lots of gaudy patches are a turn off to me. I like my kimonos with a clean design and excellent attention to detail.
The Tau gi is in keeping with this minimalist ideal. The gi is white with light blue logo stitching in several key places, but no patches. Both shoulders have 93 Brand Kimonos logos stitched in light blue, with the tagline "position/submission" stitched on the right lower flank of the jacket. The pants have a simple design with a light blue "T" over the front left hip and the tag "93.finest technique" at the bottom front of the right leg. All the stitching of both the jacket and pants is done in an aesthetically pleasing light blue contrast stitching, including the extra knee padding that goes from just above the knees to approximately four inches above the bottom pants cuff.
Inside the jacket sleeves and pant legs, as well as inside the jacket, runs protective tape sporting the tagline "position/submission." It's a nice touch and doesn't distract from the clean design of the gi.
There is only one patch in this gi and it's the square manufacturer label on the inside jacket. Inside the gi I was sent-- a sample from the manufacturer-- there was an older "Goose" label mistakenly placed in this Tau jacket (the Goose was a prior kimono design by this company). This is my one style criticism of this kimono, and I was assured by the manufacturer that this was only due to my kimono being a sample. All the final Taus will have the accurate Tau patch inside.
The gi lacks an interior rash guard, but due to it's incredibly soft weave it doesn't need one.
This gi gets high marks for its clean design and the aesthetically pleasing combination of contrast stitching, logos, tagged protective taping, and color blend.
With BJJ gis, only time can really tell whether it is of good quality or not. Once the gi has taken a few months of beatings during training, you get a much better idea as to the quality of the product. However, a thorough inspection and a few rolls will reveal gross errors in design or poor workmanship. This gi has neither of these deficiencies.
I can say that upon inspection, I saw no missed stitches, no frayed edges, no poorly conceived design ideas.
During a training session, we pulled on this gi and tried to wear it out. While only time will tell whether the gi will hold up to the long term abuse that is BJJ training, I did not notice any frayed edges or loose stitching. Even after washing the gi and sending it through the dryer (I always dry my gis once in order to shrink them a bit to fit my frame), it held up well.
The pants drawstring is a heavy cord, exactly like my prior Shoyoroll gis. I am hopefull that the ends of this cord do not fray like my Shoyorolls (my one criticism of the Shoyoroll design).
The crotch of the gi pants features a pearl weave gusset-- I suppose this is for comfort and better maneuverability-- instead of the cotton of the rest of the pants.
While the gi is light and soft, it appears to have a durable construction and I do not expect it to deteriorate with usual training wear. It appears this gi is well made.
Regarding sizing, I am 6'0" and 165 lbs. A Shoyoroll A2 fits me perfectly. The Tau in an A2 fits me equally well.
Comparison to the Shoyoroll Comp Standard XIII
I received this 93 Brand Kimonos Tau gi just a few weeks after purchasing a blue Comp Standard XIII from Shoyoroll.
Both gis are remarkably similar in their overall design. From the stitch patterns and cut of the jacket, to the cords of the pants, to the pearl weave gusset in the pants' crotch, it would be difficult to tell one from the other except for the color and labels. (I have heard the rumour that most gis are manufactured at only a handful of locations and most use the the same design patterns regardless of brand. Not sure if this is true, but the Tau and the Shoyoroll Comp Standard XIII seem to be identical designs, just with different weave in the jacket and different trim and logos.)
However, the Tau is significantly more soft and pliable than the Comp Standard XIII, and much more comfortable to wear. The Comp Standard XIII feels great compared to most gis, but compared to the Tau it feels stiff and rough. It also seems that Shoyoroll has purposefully limited its Comp Standard XIII to the bare minimum of details-- no contrast stitching, minimal logo placement, new jacket label (that I don't like as much as the label in my other Shoyoroll. The new label says "Designed in Los Angeles, Made in Pakistan" instead of the former "Premium Fine Fitted Kimonos" that I prefer.), no rasta tape, etc... In fact, while Shoyoroll has become the standard for unique and beautifully detailed BJJ gis, the Tau actually has more detail and uniqueness than the Comp Standard XIII .
When you compare the Shoyoroll Comp Standard XIII and the Tau side by side, you realize the Tau matches up to the Shoyoroll very well. When you further consider that the Tau is listed for $139 while the white Comp Standard XIII is $159, it becomes clear that the Tau is the better deal. Even more, if you are lucky enough to purchase a Tau for $100 during the sale on BJJHQ.com, I believe you can rest assured that you have received one of the best BJJ gi deals on the planet.
I must mention that I am a big fan of Shoyoroll. The Shoyoroll brand has a huge following, and I am among those who are impressed with their creativity and innovative designs. I absolutely love my Shoyoroll DLux Batch #19, and I am certain I will purchase more Shoyoroll gis in the future.
However, the limited release Shoyoroll gis are different than the new Comp Standard XIII. My DLux is beautiful, with rasta tape in the cuffs, well-blended colors, and a clean design. My blue Comp Standard XIII is still an excellent gi, but it lacks the signature details of prior Shoyorolls.
If you are a Shoyoroll fan on a limited budget and are considering a white Shoyoroll Comp Standard XIII, I'd recommend purchasing a Tau gi from 93 Brand Kimonos instead. The Tau is $20 cheaper (or $59 cheaper on BJJHQ.com ), has a more detailed finish, and is much more comfortable. By purchasing the Tau over the Comp Standard XIII you can save your money for one of the limited release Shoyoroll batches, and enjoy an excellent gi from 93 Brand Kimonos that just might become one of your favorites.
I was not familiar with 93 Brand Kimonos prior to testing the Tau, but I will be enthusiastically inserting this gi into my regular gi rotation.